A Tell Tale Heart Essay
Psychologytoday. com defines insanity as “ mental illness of such a severe nature that a person cannot distinguish fantasy from reality, cannot conduct her/his affairs due to psychosis, or is subject to uncontrollable impulsive behavior. ” Legaldictionary. om goes on to say “It may be considered in a threefold point of view: A chronic disease, manifested by deviations from the healthy and natural state of the mind, such deviations consisting in a morbid perversion of the feelings, affections and habits; Disturbances of the intellectual faculties, under the influence of which the understanding becomes susceptible of hallucinations or erroneous. Impressions of a particular kind; and A state of mental incoherence or constant hurry and confusion of thought”.
These definitions have a direct correlation to the main character in the short story “A Tell Tale Heart” by Edgar Allen Poe. A Tell Tale Heart” is a short story of a man that is obsessed with an old man who has a blue eye that he believes is evil. He watches the elderly man for several days claiming his life on the eighth day and chopping his body up and hiding it in the floorboards of the old mans room. Through the main characters narration of the story he pleas he is sane because of how well he planned and executed this murder. In fact through his plea of sanity he show how insane he truly is. In his first sentences of the short story the narrator set the tone of his mental state.
He said, “Very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses –not destroyed –not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily –how calmly I can tell you the whole story. ” In that statement I knew his mental state was questionable. What was this disease he spoke of? How can he hear both things in heaven and in hell? A sane mind can identify with feelings of nervousness, which led me to believe he was sane in the beginning.
However the awareness of a disease that has sharpened his senses was an indicator for a mental break. The main character describes his feeling about the old man in rational sane thoughts. He says, “I loved the old man. He never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. ” He was always nice to him and didn’t desire his treasures. It was the old mans eye what was the problem. He says “He had the eye of a vulture –a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold…” He describes the eye and how it made him feel in a sane state of mind.
The main characters deep feelings of discomfort from this eye overwhelms him and leads him to his decision to claim the old mans life. During this time I believe he walked the fine line between sane and insane. His though process, rationale and even planning were all of a sane mind set. However, when the premeditated planning of the murder advances into performing the act of murder itself his insanity became abundantly clear. The main character presents himself in a way where his mental state is truly left open to interpretation. It is difficult to conclude whether he is sane or insane.
He speaks in suck a way that you could argue is to rational for him to be thought of an insane. However, his actions are carried out in a way that makes you think he is a mad man. I believed he still walking that fine line up until this point. He has planned and executed the perfect murder. His ending actions of confessing his crime showed when he lost all sanity. He started to he the dead mans heartbeat and confesses him crime to the police. “It is the beating of his hideous heart! ” he said. Up until this point it had been the old mans “evil eye”. I then questioned if he was ever sane.